U.N. report links rise in hunger to climate change

World commitments to addressing climate change are changing, but so is the energy sector.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Sept. 15, 2017 at 8:39 AM
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Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Global hunger is on the rise, affecting 11 percent of the world's population, in part because of climate change, an annual report from the United Nations found.

An annual State of Food Security report prepared jointly for the first time with help from the World Health Organization and UNICEF found that, after declining for more than a decade, the number of people affected by hunger was on the rise at 815 million last year.

"The increase -- 38 million more people than the previous year -- is largely due to the proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks," the report read.

For Yemen, still reeling from the civil conflict that grew out of the Arab Spring movements, more than 14.1 million people faced threats from food insecurity because of flooding, heavy rains and tropical cyclones last year. Afghanistan, mired in conflict at least since 2001, saw 8.5 million people affected by both drought and flood.

The report found a link between conflict and climate-related shocks because of demand strains brought on by extreme weather events. Some of the nations with the highest level of malnourished children, meanwhile, are the most war-torn. More than 7 million people faced food security risks in Syria last year.

Market dynamics have played a role as well, with a weakened energy market starving some countries of much-needed capital.

"Economic slowdowns in countries highly dependent on oil and other primary commodity export revenues have also had an impact on food availability and/or reduced people's ability to access food," the report read.

A collapse in crude oil prices last year had sweeping economic impacts for major oil-producing nations like Russia, Nigeria and Libya. The market mantra has been "lower-for-longer" as crude oil prices remain stuck at levels that are about half what they were three years ago.

Commitments to addressing climate change are also evolving. The United States under President Donald Trump has signaled its readiness to leave the multilateral Paris climate deal, and the European Union vowed to take up the mantle.

The energy sector is changing, too. The British and French governments said this year they'd work toward a benchmark of banning the sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles from its roads beginning in 2040.

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